Citizen Journalism Ireland: Homeless in New York by Richard Gere prompts me to write about Homelessness in Ireland. By Michelle Clarke

Sath Samh 02, 2013 16:34

Autumn day, wind blows, rain and damp invade the bodies of people who sit and are forced to beg

 by Michelle Clarke (Francis) – Homelessness

The man outside Tescos has taken the spot from another man who has a problem with his leg, their story is ‘stereotypically’ the same and that is they are begging for money for their hostel preferably so that they can book a week in advance. To be sitting on a pavement as the weather changes for the realities of a hard winter makes their situation all the more unacceptable because you know their plight is that they fall between the cracks of the social model and because they have no utility bill, no fixed address, they have no social welfare. For some reason these people are displaced from their original homes, it might be divorce, drug addiction, alcoholism, disability, ill-health and in particular people with mental health problems but what it does tell you is that there are people in our society who need special involvement from social services and who do not receive same.

I walk up to the next shop and B reminds me that I went in one door of Tescos the last day and came out the other and forgot about him. What probably happened is that I was on the mobile phone and just forgot about B. Earlier in the day another character came up to me and as usual asked for his Euro; when B noticed he admonished me and said why did I give to him because he had State benefits, a home and spent his day gambling in the bookies. This is the life of the Street. It’s harsh, it’s uncertain, it’s cold. It is about asking for money because you have nowhere to sleep for the night and ad infinitum. The poem (not included here because no permission) reflects the narrative so well and the truth is this hardship causes too many to die, too young, without an opportunity to know the difference. Ozzie was our local. When he died, we all realized that each had a little of his character to remember him by. He looked so much older than his years. He had attributes but society sidelined him to homelessness, begging and who knows what else.

Stereotypes, monologues of the elites who have no empathy, the homeless industry and charities, (those without the objective to eradicate homelessness because it becomes their bread and butter), those chief executives and their flock who earn well in excess of £150,000, the beneficial owners of the hostels who receive payment for the beds in the dormitories from the overly bureaucratic sectors of government and in particular the HSE. Pruning is essential and a fresh look is urgently needed to tackle the homelessness crisis and underclass emergence in the streets of our city Dublin and other cities on this Island.

The internet is like access to literacy which empowers the people. With ease, the majority of us can access what happens in other countries.  We are told that the EU has the Invisible Hand and social is a strong contributor. We know social plays a considerably less significant part of the American belief system. Let’s use the internet to take a look at San Francisco – Think Progress publication.

There is new survey about homelessness in the US (begging there refers to panhandlers) – downtown San Franciso. What is interesting is that it challenges the myths and the interesting part is that the myths there, resemble the same myths that apply here on the Island of Ireland. You might ask how or why? Well there seems to be a conventional wisdom ‘that those on the sidewalk asking for a dollar are lazy freeloaders who will use the money for alcohol or drugs’. The danger is when the media are biased towards this view and use the airwaves to promote the myths. In the US, Fox media and a Mr John Stossel have become the mouthpiece for the perpetrators of the myths and he has broadcast certain messages which are heavily biased and harmful to “beggars”. Stossel reports (we know only too well that so many of us use these very same stereotypes) messages such as “I had heard some people beg for a living and make big bucks – $80,000 a year in some cases….You shouldn’t really give to these street people…..You are really supporting alcoholism and drug problems”.

Thankfully this spurred on The Unions Square Business Improvement District (a collection of 500 property owners downtown San Francisco), to fund a research team. They took a two day period, in March. They spoke to 400 people who gave money to panhandlers/beggars over the past year. Thankfully, they can refute the Mythology. They found which I doubt is anyway different to what one would find in Dublin that ‘the typical ‘panhandler’ or ‘beggar’ is a ‘disabled middle-aged single male who is a racial minority (maybe not yet in Ireland) and makes less than $25 per day despite panhandling seven days a week for more than five years… fact 94% of these meager earnings are spent on food….furthermore they found that contrary to the myth people hold that ‘they prefer to live on the streets’ is wrong and that only 3% of panhandlers don’t want housing’.

Words like underclass, victims, mentally ill, without out access to proper medical services, lack of education, sparse provision of social workers, drug addicts maintained on methadone for decades without a source of education to help them become working contributors to society by access to education must define Ireland as different, because we are small enough to make changes. Ignorance is no defence. We need to avoid victimology and create opportunities by seeking out alternatives other than a life on the streets begging.

Fr McVerry’s and Alice Leahy, Trust, and Sr Stan are names accredited for helping the homeless.

Fr McVerry’s website provides the facts:

“This page provides statistical information on homelessness and Peter McVerry Trust Services”.


7 – Average number of new presentations of homelessness in Dublin per day. (2012)

30% – Women now account for just over 30% of Ireland’s homeless population.

94 – Minimum number of rough sleepers in Dublin, based on rough sleeper count for April 2013.

307 – Girls aged 19 or under recorded as homeless in the 2011 census.

3,808 – The number of homeless in Ireland recorded in census 2011.

Stark figures for such a small population.

The US survey states that 60% make $25 a day or less, if this is so in Ireland and the hostels cost in excess of e60 per week plus the addition of the what HSE, the DCC, the NGO’s, Charities pay to the private owners of the hostels, it makes it quite a pitiful existence with no hope of ever leaving this culture of dependency propagated by commerce.

Why do people give to beggars! The finding is simple. Empathy and a fear that you or a family member may one day be a ‘beggar’.  If this is so

Come back to the words of wise man ‘The world is made up of the Takers and the Taken’

Remember when you see a beggar on the street, chances are through the food they eat, the drink they drink, the accommodation they use, they too and possibly more so are paying tax and re-investing in Ireland Inc-these people are paying real indirect taxes daily and recycling money in the economy.

By Michelle Clarke

Quote by Florynce Kennedy (1916-2011) US Lawyer, Activist
“Don’t agonize, organize

Adonis Diaries

Homeless in New York: Richard Gere

“When I went undercover in New York City as a homeless man, no one noticed me.

I felt what it was like to be homeless man.

People would just past by me and look at me in disgrace. Only one lady was kind enough to give me some food.

It was an experience I’ll never forget. So many times we forget how blessed we are. 7

We should not take that for granted. And if we can help someone in need, we should.

That’s why after I was done, I walked around and gave food and $100 to every homeless person I saw.

They cried and were so grateful. Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

(Better to find him a job. Start an association to locate jobs to homeless people)

Richard Gere's photo.

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About michelleclarke2015

Life event that changes all: Horse riding accident in Zimbabwe in 1993, a fractured skull et al including bipolar anxiety, chronic fatigue …. co-morbidities (Nietzche 'He who has the reason why can deal with any how' details my health history from 1993 to date). 17th 2017 August operation for breast cancer (no indications just an appointment came from BreastCheck through the Post). Trinity College Dublin Business Economics and Social Studies (but no degree) 1997-2003; UCD 1997/1998 night classes) essays, projects, writings. Trinity Horizon Programme 1997/98 (Centre for Women Studies Trinity College Dublin/St. Patrick's Foundation (Professor McKeon) EU Horizon funded: research study of 15 women (I was one of this group and it became the cornerstone of my journey to now 2017) over 9 mth period diagnosed with depression and their reintegration into society, with special emphasis on work, arts, further education; Notes from time at Trinity Horizon Project 1997/98; Articles written for 2003/2004; St Patricks Foundation monthly lecture notes for a specific period in time; Selection of Poetry including poems written by people I know; Quotations 1998-2017; other writings mainly with theme of social justice under the heading Citizen Journalism Ireland. Letters written to friends about life in Zimbabwe; Family history including Michael Comyn KC, my grandfather, my grandmother's family, the O'Donnellan ffrench Blake-Forsters; Moral wrong: An acrimonious divorce but the real injustice was the Catholic Church granting an annulment – you can read it and make your own judgment, I have mine. Topics I have written about include annual Brain Awareness week, Mashonaland Irish Associataion in Zimbabwe, Suicide (a life sentence to those left behind); Nostalgia: Tara Hill, Co. Meath.
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